Boot Lake Basecamp
Can this trip compare to last year's my brother and I are both wondering? Last year's trip (our 1st time here) to a basecamp on Shell Lake had been just about perfect in every way; great weather, no rain to speak of, great campsite, virtually no bugs, and good fishing. We are not expecting to have all those conditions come together again, but we are still both excited about our trip this year, planning to basecamp on Boot Lake. We have gone with Canoe Country Outfitters, mainly because they have a motel attached to their business and we want to be sure to have a place to stay both before and after. So after driving here yesterday and going over our gear one more time, we are off to an early start to Brittons for breakfast, then over to The Great Outdoors to pick up leeches. I wanted to go there since I had seen so much of him on the messageboards in the months leading up to the trip.
This years trip did not involve quite as much preparation as last years, since last year was our first and now we had most of our gear assembled. Still, repeatedly accessing this site and bombarding it with questions greatly enhanced my anticipation. What a great site this is! Like last year, my brother has a supply of mail order cigars sent to my house since apparently his family does not want him to have them. Prior to our trip I sneak them over so he can pack them into the bottom of his new duluth pack.
We get to the parking lot at Mudro a couple of years too late to see the famous Chainsaw Sisters saloon that I read so much about, but instead we get to see a snapping turtle laying it's eggs in the middle of the sandy parking lot.
We put in at Mudro, and paddle the serpent-like river through a sea of grass before emerging into the lake proper. The dreaded 3 portages to Fourtown are in front of us now, and I have read much about how arduous they are. Maybe because it's the beginning of our trip and we are fresh, or maybe because they didn't live up to their hype, but they didn't seem all that bad to me. Even the cliff-like put in to Fourtown wasn't that big of a deal really. I do play it smart and carry the canoe over the long middle portage, so I have a good excuse to let my brother do it on the trip back. Har, Har!! After triple portaging it is probably a bit later in the day when we get to Fourtown than when most people reach it, and after paddling it for a bit we are passed by a couple of canoes who say they are probably pushing thru to camp on Fairy. We are planning to camp on Boot so I'm not concerned. We enjoy the paddle and the easy portage to Boot, and it is all down hill from here. No more portages; the next time we unload it is basecamp for the week! We pass the first couple sites on Boot which are unoccupied, but look terrible. I had read on this site that the second campsite was pretty good, but it's claustrophobic and crappy in our opinion so we push on to check out the middle and northern sites. Sure enough; the group that had passed us and said they were going to Fairy is now engaged in setting up on the nice looking middle campsite. At least half of them are; one canoe is setting up camp there, and the other canoe is heading up to the northernmost campsite also! What the ____?!?!? My blood pressure goes down though when the "scouting mission" canoe returns to their main campsite without staking a claim to the northernmost site, which is now open and ready for our arrival. We beach the canoe, unload and set up camp at what in my opinion is the nicest of the campsites on that lake. Whoo Hoo!! We are set!
As we are unpacking and setting up our tents I hear increasingly agitated noises and then a scream of primal rage from over by my brother's tentpad. Apparently the cigars he went to so much trouble to obtain didn't make it into his pack after all! (What did make it into his new pack was a nice rip from hauling it out of the canoe over a rivet instead of lifting it out.) Not exactly the start to his trip that he would have hoped for I'll bet.
We still have a couple of hours of daylight left, so we head out to do what we came for; to fish! A light rain has started, but without any strong wind it's bearable. The fishing is not great, but we don't get skunked either. Then it's back to camp for a dinner of italian sausage and planning out the attack for tomorrow,our first full day.